Jansrud keeps the hot hand in training
Birds of Prey 2014
Downhill training, 11 a.m.
Downhill training, 11 a.m.
Downhill, 10:45 a.m.
Super-G, 11 a.m.
Giant slalom, 9:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
BEAVER CREEK — The man is smoking hot.
Yes, Tuesday was only Day 1 of training, but when Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud arrives at Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek after winning the downhill and super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, to start the speed portion of the World Cup season, and lays down the fastest time of the day, it is noteworthy.
“Well, obviously good,” Jansrud said when asked how he was feeling. “There’s a little more pressure as well, going in here with a lot of expectations probably, considering last weekend in Lake Louise. It’s more of a luxury problem.”
Jansrud clocked a time of 1 minute, 40.06 seconds — 0.27 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng, and 73-hundredths faster than Italy’s Peter Fill.
On the rise
Ironically, Jansrud’s biggest issue before this season kicked off was that he had started most of his previous campaigns slowly.
That has apparently changed with 200 World Cup points in his pocket after his Canadian weekend, despite no changes in his offseason training.
“A big target this year was to stop that. There’s really no reason for me to be slow in the start,” he said. “I think it’s more of a mind game really, how you’re preparing, how you go into Lake Louise, the first races of the season, how you attack it.”
With his teammate Aksel Lund Svindal out for the season with a torn ACL, Jansrud does feel the need to step up for his team but, at the same time, does not feel like he’s stepping out of the two-time overall World Cup champion’s shadow.
Truth be told, Jansrud started winning last season when Svindal was still healthy. At the 2014 Olympics, he captured bronze, one place ahead of Svindal, in the downhill and then struck gold in the super-G in Sochi.
Jansrud kept it going by taking his first two World Cup races in Kvitfjell, Norway, in March, again topping Svindal in their home country’s races.
“I never felt like I was in Aksel’s shadow because that’s just how the team worked,” Jansrud said. “Of course, he’s been our captain, our leader. The results have meant he’s been up there and a star for us. For me, coming out of the shadow or not, it’s that you always have to have the belief that, regardless who’s the star, you’ve got to win.”
Kueng was happy to be back in Beaver Creek. It was on this weekend last year that he earned his first World Cup win during the Birds of Prey super-G. While this race has produced a plethora of first-time winners, Kueng promptly notched No. 2 in Wengen, Switzerland, downhill.
“The first victory is something special and the other victory for me in Wengen was perfect,” Kueng said. “But I’m the same guy, and I have two times here at Beaver Creek. I like the slope.”
For the uninitiated, the holy grails of the men’s World Cup are Wengen and Kitzbuehel, Austria, and, if you are a Swiss racer taking the top step of the podium in Wengen, life is very sweet.
Fill’s no stranger to the podium at Birds of Prey. He was third in last year’s downhill and super-G last year.
Course takes a bite
While it’s only training, a gate just below The Brink would have taken a bunch of the field, had it been race day. The final results had 21 asterisks, designating “potential disqualification.” Those 21 were not officially DQ’d because it was training, however, it’s a good bet that turn will likely be adjusted for today’s training.
In what could be a real feel-good story for the week, American Steve Nyman tied for fifth in Tuesday’s training on the heels of a 16th-place finish in the downhill and 29th in the super-G last weekend.
Now 32, Nyman looked like an up-and-coming American downhiller — podiums here in 2006 and 2007 and wins in Val Gardena, Italy, in 2007 and 2012 — before injuries did a number on him.
A big bib-hopper was American Jared Goldberg, wearing No. 47 and finishing 10th, as was teammate Andrew Weibrecht (No. 74) in 34th. Californian Travis Ganong was 21st. Aspen’s Wiley Maple cracked the top 30 in 29th.
Training continues today at 11 a.m. with the Birds of Prey downhill on Friday at 10:45 a.m. kicking off the official action.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.